YANGON (dpa) – More than 60 NGOs in Myanmar Tuesday urged the government to avoid using force against students marching from Mandalay to Yangon to demand changes to the education law.
The students were demanding talks on amendments to the National Education Law. These included the establishment of independent student and teacher unions, changes to exam and entrance requirements at universities, the introduction of ethnic languages, and a modernisation of the national syllabus.
“We found the education law is very undemocratic and restricted students’ rights. According to it, we can’t form a student union, and we have to stay away from politics,” said Ye Yint Kyaw, a spokesman for the All Burma Federation of Student Unions.
The 60-day period for negotiation declared by students has expired and students have resumed their protest against the law that was signed by President Thein Sein late last year. The students have been marching the 580 kilometres from central Myanmar’s Mandalay city to Yangon since 20 January. Students from other parts of the country have also carried out protests.
Around 100 police officers were deployed Tuesday morning at the entrance of Taung Tha township in Mandalay division to block the students, according to the Irrawady magazine.
“We urge the government authorities to completely avoid committing any kind of violence against the students whether it is during the daytime when students are carrying out their protest activities or at night time when students are resting and violence against them will go unseen,” said the joint statement of 64 civil organisations.